Karachi University hit hard by cut in HEC funds
Karachi, June 28, 2008: The federal finance ministry's recent decision to stop the
release of the Higher Education Commission's (HEC) fourth quarterly instalment
of development and recurring grant of over Rs8 billion has pushed the University
of Karachi into a grave financial crisis.
which was already hampered by the power outages in recent months, has virtually
ground to a halt while a number of projects, particularly those relating to new
infrastructural facilities, face an uncertain future.
Sources say that
the recent announcement that contractual employees will be regularised, and the
20 per cent raise in government employees' salaries announced in the budget,
will add to the burden on the cash-strapped university, which made many such
appointments in recent years. It is being predicted that unless the HEC comes to
the university's rescue, KU will not be able to pay utility bills or staff
salaries, and will fall into debt.
The public sector university runs over
50 departments and research institutes, and boasts about 700 faculty members, a
large number of non-teaching staff and approximately 20,000 students. Inside
sources say that the institution is barely meeting its expenses these days and
desperately awaiting relief from the HEC, which has not yet released the fourth
quarterly instalment of Rs25 million that was due in April.
recently informed us that it is releasing some amount but I don't know how
much," said Syed Mohammed Khalid, the university's director finance. "It is
believed that there will be a 25 to 30 per cent cut in the instalment due. The
meagre amount that will be sent falls under the funds worth Rs1.5 billion, which
the prime minister recently announced for over 50 public sector
Referring to the situation as "critical," Mr Khalid said
that the institution already faced a deficit of Rs27 million and a reduction in
its grant would amount to pushing the institution into debt. "The HEC has been
raising KU's grant every year and the university has made a lot of progress," he
remarked. "KU received Rs575 million in 2005-06, which was increased to Rs790
million in 2007-08. However, we did not receive the amount for the raise due in
staff salaries last year and it was expected that the HEC would allocate Rs1,086
million for 2008-09."
'The dark ages'
Mr Khalid believes
that the recent developments have come as a rude shock to all public sector
universities. "It now seems as though KU will not even get last year's amount
and if that happens, staff salaries will not be able to be paid. The 20 per cent
increase in salaries announced in the recent budget cannot be met by the
university in the current situation," he commented, pointing out that the
institution's only source of income is student fees, which have not been raised
since last year.
"The university collected Rs379 million as fees in
2007-08. We have no immediate plans to raise fees this year, but if the
situation persists we will have to revise all our expenditures, which means that
all ongoing works – developmental or otherwise – will be affected."
president of the Karachi University Teachers' Society (Kuts), Dr Aqeel Ahmed,
said that it appeared as though all the progress made in recent years would
come to a halt and the university would regress to the time when it had only
enough money to pay salaries and the concept of research was alien.
situation will push our universities into the dark ages," he warned. "We are
being asked to generate our own revenue, which means the commercialisation of
academic affairs. The faculty of social sciences will suffer the most, and it
will also lead to a brain-drain where employees will be forced to work in poor
Dr Ahmed said that all universities were contemplating
observing a black day as a mark of protest against the government's decision.
"No doubt the country faces an economic slump," he conceded, "but education
should not be compromised at this critical juncture."
Lack of planning
During the past seven years, KU has witnessed growth in
infrastructural facilities and research institutes. Most of these projects await
completion and complete functionality due to the lack of basic facilities and
Such projects include the department of food science and
technology and the National Centre for Proteomics, whose buildings were
inaugurated a few months ago but whose facilities are not yet functional. The
Umer Basha Institute of Technology and Dr Feroz Ahmed Institute of Mass
Communications are in a similar situation, while work on the construction of the
department of biotechnology is incomplete.
Asked about the matter, the
director finance said that "these projects will suffer, directly or indirectly,
from the current situation, but we are trying to sort the problems out using our
Sources say that all problems related to new
infrastructure were mainly caused by a lack of planning and bad management on
part of the university administration. Most of these facilities, which were
initiated under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), couldn't be
completed within the allocated amount because the university failed to start the
projects on time.
How much the financial affairs of KU are transparent
can be gauged from the fact that no audit report has ever been presented in the
meetings of the bodies concerned during the last few years, nor does the budget
document contain the details of the PSDP projects.
A significant lapse of
time caused an increase in the construction cost of different projects and the
university, instead of asking for money from the HEC, diverted its own funds for
Sources add that this was done on the request of the
building and utilisation committee in the hope that the amount would be later
reimbursed by the HEC.
However, this hope has not materialised so far.
Also, there is a big question mark over the future smooth running of these new
facilities as they were developed without taking into account the chronic
problem of electricity outages.
"Instead of spending money on the
construction of new infrastructure, it would have been more appropriate to
invest the money on strengthening the existing departments and setting up a
power generation and distribution system at the university. Persistent power
outages have become a major constraint in carrying out research in recent years,
besides causing huge losses to the institution," a teacher said.
By Faiza Ilyas (Dawn)
"PLZ PROVIDE ME ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS LAW NOTES OF BCOM 2 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE."
City, Country: Karachi, Pakistan
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BSEK results of deaf candidates
Karachi: The Board of Secondary Education Karachi on Friday
announced the results of SSC Part I and II annual examination-2008 for deaf
Raja Basit secured first position with 732 out of 850 marks
while Ismail Ibrahim with 711 marks and Amna Pervez with 708 marks got second
and third position, respectively. The position-holders are students of the Dewa
Academy for the Deaf.
A total of 88 candidates appeared in the exams and
all of them remained successful. APP
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Summer camp at Defence Central Library (DCL)
Karachi: Summer camp organised by the Defence Central Library (DCL) will be held at their premises
for children of age group three to 12 from Monday July 1. The camp includes
various features including reading sessions, creative writing classes, training
for arts and crafts, swimming and many other facilities for the children to
spend their summer vacations constructively. The DCL also possess a dedicated
children's library along with the state of the art facilities provided for
interactive learning for the children. The camp will be held from Monday to
Thursday from 10.00 am till 1.00 pm. The News
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|Updated: 14 Oct, 2014|